THE ARGUMENTS for the New Liturgy have been neatly packaged, and may now be learned by rote. The new form of the Mass is designed to engage the celebrant and the faithful in a communal activity. In the past the faithful attended mass in personal isolation, each worshipper making his private devotions, or at best following the proceedings in his missal. Today the faithful can grasp the social character of the celebration; they are learning to appreciate it as a community meal. Formerly, the priest mumbled in a dead language, which created a barrier between priest and people. Now everyone speaks in English, which tends to unite priest and people with one another. In the past the priest said mass with his back to the people, which created the mood of an esoteric rite. Today, because the priest faces the people, the mass is a more fraternal occasion. In the past the priest intoned strange medieval chants. Today the entire assembly sings songs with easy tunes and familiar lyrics, and is even experimenting with folk music. The case for the new mass, then, comes down to this: it is making the faithful more at home in the house of God.
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